Although the efficacy of lopinavir/ritonavir has not been proven, it has been proposed as an off-label treatment for COVID-19. Previously, it has been reported that the plasma concentrations of lopinavir significantly increase in inflammatory settings. As COVID-19 may be associated with major inflammation, assessing the plasma concentrations and safety of lopinavir in COVID-19 patients is essential.
Real-world COVID-19 data based on a retrospective study.
Among the 31 COVID-19 patients treated with lopinavir/ritonavir between March 18, 2020 and April 1, 2020, higher lopinavir plasma concentrations were observed, which increased by 4.6-fold (interquartile range: 3.6–6.2), compared with the average plasma concentrations in HIV. Lopinavir concentrations in all except one patient were above the upper limit of the concentration range of HIV treatment. Approximately one to 5 patients prematurely stopped treatment mainly because of an ADR related to hepatic or gastrointestinal disorders.
Lopinavir plasma concentrations in patients with moderate-to-severe COVID-19 were higher than expected, and they were associated with the occurrence of hepatic or gastrointestinal adverse drug reactions. However, a high plasma concentration may be required for in vivo antiviral activity against SARS-CoV-2, as suggested by previous studies. Therefore, in the absence of adverse drug reaction, lopinavir dosage should not be reduced. Caution is essential because off-label use can be associated with a new drug safety profile.